Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Misogynist myths.

Over a massive dinner of barbecued seafood with wonderful friends, we talked about the bizarre, inaccurate and often misogynist things we learnt from orthodox religious teachers - whether it was from full-time religious school in the case of my two friends, or Sunday religious classes for me. These three gems stick in my mind, and the following analysis should be read with a pinch of salt:

1. Women have nine nafs (internal desires), while men only have one.
The elaboration of this is that women have one 'intellect', while men have nine. This is used usually as a justification for polygamous marriages, as has been famously said by the spokesperson of Ikhwan Polygamy Club, Hatijah Aam (There are also other very interesting quotes by her in this article). Polygynous marriages can supposedly tame these multiple emotions of women by hurting them. I don't see how that's nice, but one woman's meat is another woman's poison, right?

2. Women are buried one foot deeper at seven feet under, while men are buried six feet under.
My friends had never heard of this one, but I've heard this more than once at the tender, impressionable ages of 8 to 10 years old, during Sunday religious classes, and it has stuck. The argument given by the uztazah (religious teacher) was that women commit more sins than men, such as gossiping (but hey, boys gossip too). Therefore, they should be interred deeper below - presumably to punish them further by placing them further away from God, or to stop their sins from coming out? Assuming that He is found somewhere up above?

A friend suggested that the teacher should have said that women should be buried one foot less deep, because with all their sins they need to be closer to God (again, assuming that God is somewhere up there). A better argument, perhaps.

3. Men have one less left rib because the first woman was fashioned from Adam's left rib.
And for the longest time I thought it was true, and that this could even be a way to identify a skeleton's sex! I don't know why I didn't go around poking my brother's or father's ribs, but of course, biologically all humans have the same number of ribs on each side.

This story is actually very interesting because it can be used to promote a repressive or loving opinion of women in general. The repressive version goes like this: because the first woman was fashioned from Adam's rib and not from clay/water as Adam was, she is a second order being and is thus doomed to be forever inferior to him.

The loving version goes like this, and can be found in the form of this story (by Oliver Wendell Holmes, a 19th century American writer, but often appears anonymously on many Christian and Muslim websites): 
Woman was created from the rib of man
She was not made from his head to top him
Nor from his feet, to be trampled on.
She was made from his side, to be equal to him
From under his arm to be protected by him
From near his heart to be loved by him.
It's fascinating how much sticks in our minds, but thankfully we also have the gifts of reason and logic to make sense of it all.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...